Carolinas HealthCare System

Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization

Joseph A. Paolillo Jr., MD
Joseph A. Paolillo Jr., MD
Director, Pediatric Cardiac

Joseph A. Paolillo Jr., MD, wasn't planning on moving from Gainesville, Fla., and his position with the University of Florida and Shands HealthCare when he received a call from René Herlong, MD, medical director of pediatric cardiology at Levine Children's Hospital. "When you're comfortable in your job, an opportunity to join another program has to measure up to or exceed your expectations," he says. Dr. Paolillo saw a strong alignment between physicians and administration, with a vision to build a renowned comprehensive adult and pediatric congenital heart program. That, in combination with a commitment to support his clinical research interests, made him leave Florida to join the Levine Children's Hospital team as director of the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Program. "I wanted to be a part of this exciting opportunity."

Currently, the program offers patients, from infancy to adulthood, access to technology, staff and expertise on par with other leading national programs. Dr. Paolillo believes the patient experience at Levine Children's Hospital is what sets the program apart. "Considering the stress involved with invasive procedures, we put extra thought into making the entire experience as pleasant as possible for patients and their families. From our scheduling process, to the procedure day, through hospital discharge, patients and families come first."

Seventy-five percent of cath lab cases involve alternative therapies to open heart surgery, including device closure to repair holes in the heart or abnormal blood vessels, enlargement of narrow valves and vessels with balloons or stents, and in some cases, valve replacement. The majority of the remaining procedures involve gathering information prior to surgery, to assist the team in planning more complex, staged surgical repairs. The high quality of our Echocardiography Program makes the days of true "diagnostic" heart catheterization a thing of the past.

A unique component of the Pediatric Cardiac Cath Program is the support from Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute's Clinical Research Program. Dr. Paolillo explains, "We're currently part of two national investigations. Sanger's reputation in clinical research has helped secure our position in another trial, involving a new device to close holes in the heart. Only 10 pediatric interventional cardiology programs in the country will be allowed to participate in the initial phase of this exciting new technology." Finally, an area of growth for the Pediatric Cardiac Cath Program is the increasing number of adults with congenital heart disease (CHD). There are more adults with CHD alive who are older than age 18 than younger, thanks to increased survival of our adult patient population. "We're partnering with primary care providers to recapture the growing population of adults who had surgery as children and may have been lost to follow-up. There's also a population of adult patients with previously undiagnosed CHD. Many of them are in poor health and don't realize there are transcatheter and surgical options that can improve their quality of life. Our program offers them hope," Dr. Paolillo concludes.

To contact Dr. Paolillo, call 704-373-1813 or email


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